Big-match analysis: Terriers' tale wags strongly in Huddersfield Town's amazing shoot-out finish

'˜THE SMALL dogs' are now the top dogs, at least here in Yorkshire.

Chris Schindler, whose penalty won the shoot-out against Reading, watches as Huddersfield Towns head coach David Wagner raises the Championship play-off trophy (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA).

Huddersfield Town, one of the game’s famous old names, will next season fly the flag on their own for the White Rose county in the Premier League.

Head coach David Wagner’s side prevailed in the most dramatic of fashions, the Terriers holding their nerve in a penalty shoot-out that put every man, woman and child among the 38,500 strong travelling army who had descended on Wembley through the emotional wringer.

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It was the sixth time Huddersfield had triumphed in a play-offs shoot-out. It was also their third success in a final.

But, with due respect to those promotions of 2004 and 2012, this was the day when the pressure was truly on.

Victory meant the Premier League and the sort of riches that will transform Town forever. Lose, however, and chances are such an opportunity might never have come around again.

Amid such high stakes, Huddersfield stood firm even after Michael Hefele saw his spot-kick saved to hand Reading an early advantage at 2-1, which did not derail their push for the top flight.

Instead, Nahki Wells and Aaron Mooy converted from 12 yards either side of Liam Moore skying his penalty.

Jordan Obita then had Reading’s fifth and final effort saved by Danny Ward, which meant, as Christopher Schindler strode forward purposefully from the centre circle, Town were tantaslisingly close.

As Wembley collectively held its breath, the German – a club record £1.8m signing from TSV 1860 Munich last summer – proved he has ice in his veins by coolly firing beyond Ali Al-Habsi’s outstretched hand and into the bottom corner of the net.

Cue pandemonium in the stands and on the pitch as Schindler’s team-mates raced to catch the match-winner.

Up on the front row of the Royal Box, an emotional Dean Hoyle wept. The club he had started supporting in the Fourth Division were, remarkably, in the Premier League.

That first season at the old Leeds Road for the future owner had brought promotion and 100 goals for Mick Buxton’s team.

Entertainment had been the order of the day in that memorable campaign. No one will claim the same applied yesterday in a final that was, even allowing for the tension caused by just what was at stake, a pretty wretched affair.

As many feared, both teams largely cancelled each other out.

There were chances, most notably in the tenth minute when Izzy Brown somehow contrived to miss an open goal.

Standing just three yards out and directly in line with the post as Nahki Wells’s drilled cross fizzed towards him, Brown, it seemed, only had to make any kind of connection with the ball to open the scoring.

The Chelsea loanee made connection. But, unfortunately for Town, it came via his shin and the ball screwed agonisingly wide of the goal.

Brown’s hands instinctively went to his head. His team-mates were similarly astonished, never mind the 76,682 crowd inside Wembley or the millions watching the world’s richest game on TV.

On such fine margins these big occasions can be decided and for the next, largely turgid, 110 minutes, Brown must have feared his miss would cost Huddersfield dear.

Never will this have been more the case than when John Swift was presented with a chance early in the second half.

Brown’s embarrassment was spared by Swift firing his shot too close to Ward, who made the save.

It was a similar story just before the hour when Lewis Grabban attempted an audacious lob over his left shoulder that, thankfully for the Terriers, bounced harmlessly wide.

Town also had openings, perhaps the best falling to Wells four minutes from the end of extra time, but his execution was poor and Al Habsi made a comfortable save.

Chairman Hoyle, from his elevated perch in the middle tier, clung to the barrier in front of the Royal Box. The whites of the Town chairman’s knuckles were so profound he could have been riding on a rollercoaster.

That, though, was still to come via a penalty shoot-out that saw Hoyle and his fellow Huddersfield fans swing from the despair of Hefele’s early miss to the sheer, unadulterated joy of Schindler ensuring every dog – big or small – does, indeed, have its day.